Jeremy Campbell, who’s won three Paralympic gold medals, is the reigning world champion in discus.
Campbell, 29, is a native of Perryton, Texas. He first emerged in 2008 as one of the stars of the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field team, winning his first pair of gold medals in discus and pentathlon at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Campbell won another gold at the London 2012 games and a world title at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships.
He’s in Rio for the 2016 Paralympic Games, competing to defend his title as a discus thrower.
“I have high expectations. I’m coming in here with the world lead and I have had by far the best season of my life,” Campbell says. “That is pretty comforting and motivating coming into the games.”
Campbell was born with fibular hemimelia, a rare birth deficiency in which his right leg lacks a fibula. Around 11 months old, doctors amputated the leg just below the knee. But, as the youngest of three brothers in a very athletic family, Campbell gravitated towards sports. He ran track and field in middle school and high school, saying that his disability never felt much like one.
“Even though my leg was amputated, I grew up in a very athletic home,” Campbell says. “It never really held me back. From a physical standpoint, this is all I’ve ever known, so I didn’t have to relearn anything and I’ve never really had to excessively adapt to anything. Constantly being around sports and competition, I just adopted that mindset as if it was first nature.”
In high school, Campbell always knew he wanted to continue in sports after graduation, but he didn’t know exactly how. He heard about the Paralympics his sophomore year during a competition in Oklahoma City, and, although he didn’t know it then, he now looks back at that time as the catalyst for everything. Over a decade later, Campbell says his third Paralympic Games will be the most challenging.
“We have more elite athletes throwing elite distances, which is amazing,” Campbell says. “To have more depth in my event, and depth in the Paralympic events everywhere, is great.”
But when it comes to competing for yet another gold medal, Campbell shares the battle many athletes face with themselves.
“In your sport, you have to walk that line of staying humble and hungry, and never getting too far on the other side where you lose it because you’re just too cocky,” Campbell says. “I’ve always crossed over back and forth, kind of vacillating between ‘I’m never good enough’ and ‘I’m one of the best throwers in the world.’”
Post by Nadia Hamdan.